This is a great machine, I wish I'd bought it sooner!
Positive Product Points
This machine is very simple to use.
Very quick to heat up.
Fully optioned and very good value for money
Makes excellent coffee.
Clever design features
The results are consistent
Negative Product Points
I'm unsure of the build quality and how long this machine will last - I was initially unimpressed with the plastic coated stainless shell; I'd prefer to pay a bit more for a full stainless version. This said the parts that matter e.g. group head, portafilter etc do seem to be constructed of quality components - where stainless steel is used for example, it is good quality stainless. The optimist in me would say that It looks as if Breville have designed the machine to use cheaper materials for the more aesthetic parts and quality where it counts. The pessimist would say you can't be taken seriously with all that plastic. I will try to remember to do a follow up in a year or two's time to verify either way.
I was given a La Pavoni around 5 years ago. The La Pavoni has made good coffee, but nothing I'd call espresso or be proud of saying 'I made that'. Steaming ability was poor to average. I was fairly consistently disappointed with the results, though I did occasionally produce a good coffee, I couldn't replicate it no matter what I tried.
A couple of learnings for me:
Don't underestimate the value of a good grinder and fresh beans. You will read this everywhere and if you're like me probably think 'sounds like some tosser regurgitating what someone else has said'. I could not have been more wrong. A good grinder is imperative!
I live in NZ. We use 220v power - the same as Australia. I note frequent different experiences between users from countries using 220v Cf those using 110v. I'm no electrician but it seems to me the power is at least partly responsible for the different performance seen in different parts of the world.
I spent several weeks researching coffee machines and agonizing about which model to buy. I was (very) close to buying the Quickmill Andreja which I think would be a great machine. I also looked closely at Rocket and Vibiemme.
I decided on the BES900 because it seemed to me that this is the future of coffee - where technology meets history and tradition. When I understood why the Italian machines were built like they were, I began to understand how technology could be used to deliver an equivalent or possibly better result consistently and easily - coffee after coffee. The Italian style machines produce superb coffee if all the stars are aligned, with the BES900 the machine does the hard work, you just push the button.
I have not been disappointed. From the moment I got the machine home I was itching to try it out. The very first coffee I made was better quality than the vast majority I buy from cafe's. It took me a further two weeks to refine to my specific taste.
I love the way the machine is programmable, once you've perfected your coffee you simply save your settings to replicate each time you want a coffee.
The BES900 heats up in 6 minutes! (assuming you preheat the portafilter); compare this with 30 mins+ on traditional machines.
I've heard comment the steam is underpowered, I mentioned this at the time of purchase and the adjusted internally. I can steam a jug of milk in around 20 secs and it has excellent microfoam - too much really and I pour most down the sink. I'm still working on my technique to incorporate better into the milk.
I have no issues, but I'm reviewing the machine not the shop so no comment here.